I can see already why this book won't be for everyone. It's like a Cloud Atlas for young adults. Complex, mind-benMarcus Sedgwick is nuts. I love him.
I can see already why this book won't be for everyone. It's like a Cloud Atlas for young adults. Complex, mind-bending and thought-provoking. I don't even know how to classify this book. It is essentially four very different short stories wound together with the strangest of links. A link that is never-ending, that has been with us since the dawn of time and will continue long after we are gone.
Are you intrigued? Oh, you should be.
Imagine... • A story of the Paleolithic era; a free verse weird little story about a girl, her tribe, other tribes, death, and the mysterious caves where humankind will leave their first artwork for the future to find.
• A historical tale of a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft. As the evidence piles up against her, more and more of the people she once called friends turn their back and the hangman's noose draws ever closer.
• A "lunatic asylum" in 1920s America where a new doctor discovers the dark truths lurking within the halls of the mental hospital he has just arrived at.
• A story set in the future; a spaceship hurtles through the universe to find a new Earth-like planet after ours has become too overcrowded. But when the ship's sleeping occupants start to die mysteriously, it seems like someone somewhere must be awake on the ship. Or perhaps the truth is far far worse. Will they ever make it to the planet alive?
These mesmerizing stories can be read in any order; the links between them remain unchangeable. The characters are three-dimensional, vivid, alive and demand our sympathy. For somebody like me who isn't a big fan of short stories, it was quite wonderful to have them all speak to me, drag me in and make me need to see what the next would offer.
I will issue one warning: the first story (if read in order) was a little confusing to me, possibly made more so by the use of free verse. As it moved on, I became more intrigued by where Mr Sedgwick was taking it, but I didn't fall in love with this book until the second story. My love was then cemented by the third and fourth. But if the first doesn't grab you, I would say read on.
This book contains a running symbolism throughout, revealed gradually in both the smallest, most mundane of details, and the central themes. What I like most is that the stories really do stand on their own as individual masterpieces. Sedgwick is painting a bigger picture but the four stories he uses to do it are wonderful, heartbreaking and clever in their own right.
This book made me sad, angry, curious and excited. Putting it down was like walking out into the sun after being in a movie theatre... a little lost and dazed. I'm half sad that this sophisticated book will probably be judged negatively because it is "YA", and half thrilled that teens are lucky enough to have such an amazing author writing in their corner.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved onceMarie Rutkoski has upped her game.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...
I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.
This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.
It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.
The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.
I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.
One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family? The only downside is that we have to wait until April for the final book to be published.